10 unusual synonyms for ‘chew’
Do you manducate? Do you chavel? The chances are the answer is ‘yes’ to both these questions; they are both synonyms for chew. Taking a look in the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, we’ve come up with 10 unusual words you can use in place of chew next time you’re chomping on your lunch.
To ‘mump or mumble food’ – a definition only illuminating if you know what mumble means (for which you need to look at the end of this list). It is a verbification of the noun chavel meaning ‘jowl’.
A variant of chew, this is found as early as the 16th century, and is now used especially of tobacco.
While chops (a person’s or animal’s mouth or jaws) is still in common use, the verb chop (with the sense ‘chew’) is no longer popular.
Fletcherize is named after the American health food enthusiast Horace Fletcher (1849-1919), also known as ‘The Great Masticator’, who argued that food should be chewed a hundred times before being swallowed.
Old English grindan, probably of Germanic origin, and cognate with Dutch grenden. Although no further cognates are known, it may be distantly related to the Latin frendere ‘rub away, gnash’.
Insalivate, unsurprisingly, comes from the Latin saliva – a word which has been carried into English unchanged.
Although the figurative sense ‘to talk at length’ is still in widespread use, few now use jaw to mean chew – though an early example can be found in Shakespeare and Fletcher’s The Two Noble Kinsmen.
More widely used to mean ‘to chew’, manducate also specifically denoted eating the consecrated host at the Eucharist, used in reference to the Vulgate translation of the account of the Last Supper. Commanducate is another synonym for ‘chew’ from the same root.
Masticate comes from the Latin masticare, meaning to chew. Masticare is also the root of the term papier mâche.
Although now most commonly used to signify saying something indistinctly, mumble also meant ‘to bite or chew with toothless gums or without making much use of the teeth’; you can read more about it in our blog post on mumble.
For more chew synonyms, check out our thesaurus page.